Preaching is overrated

There’s an interesting post and discussion over at ThinkChristian.com about preaching: Doing Away With Preaching.

He quotes another article wherein the author says: “Preaching as it is practised in modern churches is extra-biblical, a poor form of communication, and creates dependency.”

Here’s the comment I posted: I don’t think the problem is with preaching per se. It serves a purpose, especially as the number in the community grows. The problem is over-reliance on preaching combined with what is often a passive audience mentality in the hearers. In the West, we live in an over-communicated society where we often don’t take time to reflect on or talk about what we here. For a sermon to be effective, there has to be a context where we do more with it than just passively listen to it and then go on to the next thing afterwards.

My opinion is that preaching is overrated in how important it is, but that’s not to say it doesn’t provide value. We also have to remember that it’s only one part of a church service, and that God works in ways that go beyond rational communication.

I once read a book by Juan Carlos Ortiz where he started wondering why they discussed one topic in the sermon, another in Bible study, etc. So, they switched the focus on their entire church to focus on one topic for a certain length of time.

We live in an age where we take in lots of information but spend very little time doing anything with it. If we expect a 30 minute sermon on one topic once a week that is often not thought much about once we leave the building to have any real impact, we’re kidding ourselves. It really comes down to what the individual decides to do with what they hear. Perhaps, though, the church community could do more to support living out sermons in our daily lives in ways that are meaningful.

Mass communication is never the most effective method of communicating meaning to individuals, and perhaps part of our love for it is that it’s easy. It will always have a place, but it doesn’t absolve us of individual responsibility for our lives nor of getting involved in committed relationships.